Current Affairs 8th January, 2019

Paper 1 and 2:

Topics covered

1. Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

2. India and its neighbourhood- relations. 

Panj Tirath Hindu religious site declared as national heritage

What to read?

Prelims: About Panj Tirath, it location and its significance.

Mains: Religious sites in Pakistan that are linked to Indian beliefs.

The provincial Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in northwest Pakistan has declared the ancient Hindu religious site of Panj Tirath in Peshawar as national heritage.

  • The government also announced a fine of up to Rs 2 million and five years’ imprisonment for anyone found guilty of damaging the historic site.

 

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About Panj Tirath:

Panj Tirath, which got its name from the five pools of water present there, also contains a temple and a lawn with date palm trees.

  • It is believed that Pandu, a mythical king in the Mahabharata, belonged to this area and Hindus used to come to these pools for bathing during the month of Karteek and worship for two days under the trees.

  • The site was damaged during the reign of the Afghan Durrani dynasty in 1747, however it was restored by local Hindus during the period of Sikh rule in 1834 and worship started again.

PAPER – 2 and PAPER - 3

Topics Covered

1. Governance – Policies and schemes

2. Energy

Street Light National Programme

What to read?

Prelims –EESL,  Key features and targets of the programme.

Mains - Significance of the programme, challenges ahead and ways to address them.

The Centre is likely to miss the goals it had set under the Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP) when it was launched on January 5, 2015.

Energy Efficiency Services Limited has installed over 76.77 lakh LED street lights in 28 States or Union Territories till January 3, 2019.

EESL

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Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is a joint venture of NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and POWERGRID. It was set up under Ministry of Power (India) to facilitate implementation of energy efficiency projects.

Street Light National Programme (SLNP):

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Under the SLNP, the Government aims to replace 3.5 crore conventional street lights with energy efficient LED lights.

The target under SLNP is to replace 1.34 crore conventional street lights with energy efficient LED street lights by March 2019.

  • The project has been implemented across 28 states and union territories. Energy Efficiency Services Limited, a Public Energy Services Company under the administration of Ministry of Power, Government of India (GoI) is the implementing agency for SLNP.

  • EESL also undertakes social audits in all states post the completion of the project.

 Objectives:

  • Mitigate climate change by implementing energy efficient LED based street lighting.

  • Reduce energy consumption in lighting which helps DISCOMs to manage peak demand.

  • Provide a sustainable service model that obviates the need for upfront capital investment as well as additional revenue expenditure to pay for procurement of LED lights.

  • Enhance municipal services at no upfront capital cost of municipalities.

Significance:

The installation of LED-based street lighting system is essential, since LED lighting offer higher efficiency, better illumination and life expectancy apart from being environmentally sustainable.

 Probable Mains Question

India is moving towards minimal energy utilisation in all its applications from Rural lighting to Street Lighting. Bring down the various energy saving steps taken by the government in Domestic domain.

 

 PAPER – 2

Topics Covered

1. Polity

2. Governance

Bill on 10% additional reservation for economically backward among general category

What to read?

Prelims – Article 14, 46 of the Constitution

Mains – Features of the bill and its implications

A proposed law, which got Cabinet approval, to provide 10% reservation for upper castes (or the unreserved category) exclusively with reference to their economic backwardness may run into rough weather if challenged in the Supreme Court.

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Article 14

“The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India”.

  • Equality before law- no one is above law. Equal subjection of all persons to the ordinary law of the land as administered by the ordinary courts.

  • Equal protection of the laws - Equal protection of the laws owes its origin to American Constitution. It is a more positive concept, implying the right to equality of treatment in equal circumstances.

Note – It is under Equal protection of Law Constitution allows categorisation of people. (Basis for the bill)

Article 46

Promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.

Features of the bill

This will require amendments to Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution.

  • Article 15 of the Constitution allows the state to make special provisions only for the “socially and educationally backward classes or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes”.

  • Article 16 allows the state to make such provisions for backward classes in public employment to improve representation.

The 10% quota for the general category will exceed the 50% cap placed by the Supreme Court on reservations.

This is the first time the government’s reservation quota includes economically weaker people

It had categorised the 10% quota as a ‘reasonable classification’ under Article 14 and not ‘reservation’.

Eligibility

For this purpose, one would fall in the category of the economically weak if their total income per year is Rs 8 lakh or less, if they own only up to five acres of land, if their residential home is smaller than 1,000 square feet and is located in a plot of 109 square yards in a notified municipal area or 209 square yards in a non-notified municipality.

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Arguments in favour of the bill

  • Many praised the development as historic and in line with the Centre’s principle of “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” (with all, development for all).

  • Bill finds an echo in an ordinance promulgated in Gujarat in 2016. The ordinance provided 10% quota to upper castes there.

  • Gujarat had justified the ordinance by referring to how Article 46 of the Constitution, which deals with the Directive Principles of the State Policy

Arguments against the bill

  • Indrasawhney Case - The Indira Sawhney judgment declared 50% quota as the rule unless extraordinary situations “inherent in the great diversity of this country and the people” happen. Even then, extreme caution is to be exercised and a special case should be made out.

  • No sole  economic criteria  - a backward class cannot be determined only and exclusively with reference to economic criterion

  • Against Kesvananda Bharati Case Verdict – It offends the basic structure of the Constitution. Neither Parliament nor legislatures could transgress the basic feature of the Constitution, namely, the principle of equality enshrined in Article 14.

  • This may amount to “sacrifice of merit” and violate Article 14.

Probable Mains Question

Politics is driven by the divide and rule doctrine. While India stands for Unity in Diversity, extra privileges are to be given to weaker sections. But the ground for reservation in India promotes hatred politics in India. Examine.

 

PAPER – 3

Topics Covered

1. Defence

Fourth Air base, Third Naval Air Facility in North of Port Blair – INS KHOASSA

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What to read?

Prelims – About the naval base

Mains – Significance of the Navy’s air base

Later January, 2019, the Indian Navy will commission a new airbase 100 miles north of Port Blair in the strategically located Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Facts and Significance

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  • This will be India’s fourth air base and the third naval air facility in the archipelago, which are more closer to Southeast Asia than to the Indian mainland, overlooking key sea lanes of communication and strategic choke points.

  • The base will initially operate choppers and Dornier short-range surveillance aircraft.

  • The naval air station near Diglipur port is being converted into a full-fledged base and would extend India’s foot print over the East Asian region. For instance, Myanmar and Thailand are about 500 km away from INS Kohassa.

  • The Navy currently operates air strips at Port Blair and INS Baaz at Campbell Bay, while the Air Force has a base in Car Nicobar.

  • With increased contestation in the region and in an effort to keep an eye on movements, India has considerably upgraded military infrastructure and facilities and deployed long range assets to monitor the region including the Malacca Strait. The islands also houses India’s only tri-service command.

  • The base can also act as an alternate runway to Port Blair for civilian traffic in case of emergencies.

Probable Mains Question

Andaman and Nicobar is a strategic location for India for its economical, ecological and defence interest. Analyse.